I enthusiastically signed up for Veganuary a little over a month ago. Like so many others I was drawn to it after learning of the vast environmental benefits that can be achieved from eating more plant-based foods. Going vegan can seem intimidating to many but I have had the advantage of developing a wide range of vegan products, so knew what the market already offers. There is a vegan swap for almost everything. From the more obvious Beyond burgers, Naked Glory tenderstrips, KoKo yoghurts and Glorious soups to WICKED doughnuts from Tesco, Vivera kebabs and Crackd no egg – egg! The enormous range of so many readily available options has encouraged me to try foods that I would not normally go for and there have been some interesting … and nice surprises along the way.
Huge strides have been made with meat alternatives to match flavour and textures and alongside this it is encouraging to see that nutritional profiles are also being improved. Ulrick & Short has already successfully helped a number of food manufacturers achieve premium textures for meat substitutes. It has also helped to improve nutritional profiles for a wide range of vegan products and continues with rigorous development work for this sector to help it remove E numbers, reduce fat and improve nutritional content.
With regards to E numbers, a lot of questions have been raised recently over the requirement for methylcellulose (methocel), which is used widely within meat substitutes. Methocel works with a multitude of applications to bind, thicken, emulsify, stabilise and gel, and due to its functionality, finding a clean label alternative has been tricky. However, that all looks to be changing and it is only a matter of time before methocel can be completely replaced with a clean, allergen free alternative.